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Now I’ll think twice before going to Greyhouse. Here is why.

I went to the coffee-house today evening for a cup of GreyCap and Cogdell’s book on Automorphic L-functions. Greyhouse is a wonderful place to do some Mathematics and at times, just gaze around and see what other people are doing. My Chess buddies often meet here for some rapid games. Today the place was less crowded since the school is closed for summer.

A lady approaches me and asks me my age. I have seen her earlier around the campus and even in Greyhouse. I remember last summer, she once interrupted our Chess discussion and made an awkward conversation. Kerem pointed out she’s crazy but “not guilty until proven” is my principle.

Not wanting to create a fuss, I told her my approximate age and she left me alone. After a while, she came to me and asked if I could share the table with her. Honouring the etiquette of the coffee-house, I welcomed her. Now she asks if I could be her friend. I say yes. But soon things start getting weird.

“Would you like to be my friend with benefits?”

“No.” (What the fcuk!!)

“Do you know what that means?”

“I think I know.”

“Hugging, kissing, … ”

“Yes I know” (This was getting creepy)

“Do you have a girlfriend?”



“Because I love some things (pointing at my book) more than others.”

She laughed aloud enough for everyone around to hear. I could feel the pain hidden in that laughter. I felt pity toward her.

She tore off a page from her pocket-diary and wrote her phone number on it. When I accepted it, she asked mine. I refused to share my cell number with a creepy lady I just met. She asked her note back and I gladly obliged. With some more awkward comments, she left. I shared a moment with the Indian girl sitting at the adjacent table; I could tell she overheard our conversation.


The conversation had an impact on me I hadn’t imagined. It was not just any other crazy experience but somewhat traumatizing one. I felt shaken, mildly violated although all she did was have an extremely weird conversation. I wonder what it would be to be a girl in India. Eve-teasing, stalking, groping are real problems because of roadside Romeos – jokers who don’t know how to woo a girl but know a lot of other creepy mischief. The askew sex-ratio also doesn’t help. My (female) friend used to tell me the little ways she used to retaliate against these miscreants. They should be brought to book. Hopefully “Ab ki bar Modi sarkar” or AAP improve things.

पूजा: अाईला सांगू नकोस!

Last week, I went to a summer  workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah. As I checked in the university guest house, an elderly gentleman with a white shaggy beard walked to me and asked, “You must be a mathematician.”

Turns out, (as he later introduced me) he was Gregg Zuckerman, a famous mathematician working in representation theory. He knew my advisor Shahidi and was astonished Shahidi didn’t ever mention to me about him.

To his question, I replied in true mathematical spirit, “That depends on your definition of a mathematician!” leaving a chuckle behind.

I was having my after-dinner walk along with a couple of friends along a quiet street in Pune. While returning, a Wagon-R swooshed past us with a terrifying speed. Since there was a dead end ahead, the driver had to turn back and soon the car was speeding in our direction. My friend went and stood in between the road. I thought he was going crazy but nevertheless, not wanting to desert him, I got myself ready for an altercation and stood besides. The driver had to, but stop. He opened the window and shouted, “Kay re!” My friend coolly replied, “Go slow.. (with a pause,) go slow..” and started walking ahead. The car-wala guy was left speechless. It was awesome!

This, friends, is Bibekananda Maji for you! You’d miss something if you aren’t fortunate enough to befriend him.  He has been one of my closest friends especially at IIT Bombay. Although a shy and demure friend, he can get extremely witty and also fearlessly bold at times. Most of we IIT friends have seen him speak to an audience in the infamous infantile secy-election-meeting wherein he singlehandedly turned the drab discussion into a laughter riot. At the conference’s banquet dinner in Pune too, I witnessed a new avatar of Maji. He went up the stage and spoke fearlessly among many things, of the relationship that ought to exist between a student and a teacher, and how such discussions with Abhyankar sir helped in learning new mathematics.

The new friends I got to meet at the conference too were very impressed by Maji’s wit. On the Christmas night, someone asked if he would accompany him to the church. “God is everywhere” came the reply. Another friend was asking everyone when we were leaving the conference. Maji looked up and with a grave face said, “Whenever I get my TA” (travelling allowance), leaving all around cracked up.

Arun sir says there is still a small kid inside him that refuses to grow up. Here’s to that kid hoping he never relinquishes his innocence!

Recently, I came across a post on MO that asked for complicated proofs of trivial statements. The highest voted answer was :


Theorem: 2^{\frac{1}{n}} is irrational for n > 2.

Proof: Assume the contrary, say 2^{\frac{1}{n}} = \frac{x}{y}. Then, x^n = 2 y^n = y^n + y^n contradicting Fermat’s Last Theorem.

Remark: Unfortunately, FLT can’t prove the irrationality of \sqrt 2!


Tailpiece: I recently made a (just working) webpage on my institute website. Here is its link.

Today I was sitting besides Arun in our Differential Geometry class.

The professor asked, “What is a Semisimple Operator?”

The class was silent in spite of having taken a course in Linear Algebra. (The question was related to linear algebra.)

Arun spoke, “T is a semisimple operator if every T-invariant subspace has a complementary T-invariant subspace.”

The class was puzzled. We knew Arun was a 10-pointer at IITB but this was too much.

Arun looked at me and sheepishly said, “I edited a Wikipedia article on that one :D”



Here is Arun’s mathematics blog and here is the wiki article by him.


😛 has left the lab computer without signing off his Gmail account. You are excited to avenge all his misdoings including that unforgivable lab incident; but can’t really decide the extent of turmoil. Try doing some or all of the following things:-

  • Delete all mails and clear trash (God forgive you)
  • Send an “I-love-you” message to all :P’s frequently mailed female contacts.
  • Message :P’s family and friends saying that somehow suicide seems the only option
  • Start chatting with all online contacts. Past chats may help.
  • Mail all contacts that is my ( :P’s) new email id.
  • Send random waves to all (requires Google Wave invite)
  • Send an offliner to oft-chatters that they are on the verge of getting blocked
  • Open Picasa gallery and comment on others’ pics, how dumb they look in front of a camera
  • Subscribe the email address to porn sites (nasty one)
  • Open Google Web history, print-screen and save the most wicked searches 😛 ever did and blackmail him if he tries to thrash you for doing the above things!

Help needed to expand this list!

A quote seen recently on the t-shirt of a maths student:

Biologists think, they are Biochemists,
Biochemists think, they are Chemists,
Chemists think, they are Physicists,
Physicists think, they are God.

And God thinks, He is a Mathematician!

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We were having lunch at the TIFR canteen when a new friend of mine there asked me, “So how do you commute everyday from your home all the way to TIFR?”

I almost instantaneously replied back, “I’m Abelian.” I was embarrassed.

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This is about our Complex Analysis teacher. He is a very smart guy, a keen observer and an effective orator. This makes him one of the best teachers who ever taught me. Below is a small compilation of phrases frequently used by him. These phrases are, by no means, cooked up by him just to create some humour. But curiously, it turns out that they turn out to be the most humourous quotations ever made by any teacher!

  • Weierstrass says, “Use the power series!”  
  • During my Phd days, I used to correct Conway’s students’ exam papers. (Conway is his  PhD guide). I was young then, and used to write nasty comments on them. I recollect, one student had written something like “f is continuous @ a.” I had commented, “Is this @ Arabic or Chinese?”

  • And now, we are doing analysis, hard analysis, not just algebra. (on discussing the continuity of the Mobius transformation, after discussing its group structure)
  • We shall prove it by the end of the course. (About the homotopic version of Cauchy’s Theorem) If that is not possible, then I will prove it in the sequel to this course. But certainly I shall not die before proving this!
  • There is some bad news for us. The 27th has been declared a holiday. We are going to miss out 2 lectures then. (after some time: ) Why are there so many festivals in India? Already we have weekends. (If I were the prime minister,) I would have declared just 26th Jan as the only (non-trivial) holiday. Not even 15th Aug. (Thank God that you are not the Prime minister :))  )
  • I am sick of teaching Functional Analysis.
  • It is just high school geometry (concept). (spoken when teaching the winding number)
  • If you do not prove its analyticity, you’ll forever remain an algebraist, never an analyst. (I hate him for this one)
  • (Takes pride in saying that) There is no proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra which does not use Analysis. 
  • Let amath epsi endamath > 0. (with a pause)  More than half of my life, I have been doing this!
  • Conway doesn’t do it very well. He leaves it as an exercise. So we must do a clean job of it.
  • That sounds good to me! (when we offer a free slot for an extra lecture)
  • I shall give it as my first choice (about Analytic Functions, being taught in the next semester). Otherwise, they will offer some lousy course for me to teach.
  • One thing that I have learnt from Conway is that you can’t learn Mathematics without doing problems. (very true)  
  • Oh no, no, no! I don’t know what is a Cantor set! I know only elementary things. Cantor set is beyond me. 
  • But now, we have proved that every analytic function can be expressed as a power series. This is a good news!
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One day, during lecture, I happened to get a phone call from my cousin brother. Chaitanya is a sweet little kid, around 10 years of age. Being in lecture, I couldn’t receive his call. 

Many a times, I get many a ‘mistake’ calls from my family and friends; since my name is generally first in the Contacts’ list and happens to get dialed unintentionally. It happens especially if they leave their keypads unlocked. (Many a messages have been dutifully (and wrongly) delivered to me, thanks to erroneous and hasty pressing of the cellphone keys!)

It could also happen to be a prank of his, you never know.. 

Or it could be some complaint of his, about his mom, my aunt, forcing him to eat something or drink milk or whatever.

But it was none of this… Some time later, I again got a call from him. I picked the call (of course, the lecture was over) and heard Chaitanya on the other side: “Hello, दादा?”
Me: “Hello Chaitanya, kasa ahes tu?”
Without replying to my question, he bounced back: “दादा Bluetooth ON कर ना! मला Mario चा ringtone हवाय..”

I was dumbstuck! How did this ten year old know about bluetooth protocol?

I talked to my aunt and she told me, that this kid learnt the bluetooth thing in his school and neighbourhood!

Oh my God! I recollect, at his age, I used to mug “A computer is an electronic device that does calculation.. blah.. blah..” Hell, even SMSes didn’t exist them! If I were asked what a bluetooth is, at his age, I would have sincerely believed it got something to do with blue and tooth! The world is certainly moving fast!!

I wondered what reply of mine would satisfy him.. 

Finally, I told him, “अरे, इतक्या लाम्ब range नाही पकडत, मी तुझ्या घरी आलो की देइन”

He hung up, a little happy, a little sad!

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About me

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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Quotable Quotes

“Do not think; let the equation think for you”

”You cannot be perfect, but if you won’t try, you won’t be good enough”

“Don’t worry about your maths problems; I assure you, mine are greater”

"A comathematician is a device for turning cotheorems into ffee"

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